Mercury Contacts

Some thermostats use the expanding bimetal arrangement to cause a tube of mercury to move. As the mercury moves in the tube, it comes in contact with two wires inserted into the glass tube. When the mercury comes in contact with the two wires, it completes the electrical circuit. This type of thermostat needs to be so arranged that the tube of mercury is pivoted and can be moved by the expanding or contracting bimetal strip, which exerts or releases pressure on the tube of mercury.

Thermostats used in home air-conditioning and heating systems are now, equipped with mercury contacts (see Fig. 14-17). They are made so that the mercury contacts two wires that control the air-conditioning in one position and two wires that control the heating system in the other position (see Fig. 14-18).

The advantage of the mercury bulb type of switch is the elimination of switch contact points. Contact points are in need of constant attention. In most cases the dust from the air will eventually cause them to function improperly. It is necessary to clean the points by running a piece of clean paper through them to remove the dust particles and arcing residue. Since the mercury type is sealed and the arcing created on make and break of the circuit simply causes the mercury to vaporize slightly and then return to a liquid state, it provides a trouble-free switching operation.

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